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Notebook: Landon Collins 'still smiling' after rejoining Giants


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Landon Collins has played on just one team with a winning record in his first seven NFL seasons. After spending his first four seasons with the Giants, he joined Washington as a free agent in 2019. Collins' last two seasons in Washington ended prematurely with Achilles tendon and foot injuries, respectively. The Commanders released him in March.

But when Collins did an interview today, he exhibited none of the disappointment or disillusionment that could well result from traveling on such a rocky road.

"Still smiling," Collins said after the Giants' final full-scale practice for their home game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. "I'm just having fun. Regardless of win or lose, it's a hard game. When you step into the building, you've got to have that positive mindset. You got to come in here confident knowing you've got to be able to do what you got to do or make a play or do something to help this team win. And that's the confidence that's within me."

The team that gave him his first NFL chance has now given him his latest. The Giants signed Collins to their practice squad on Oct. 7.

"They didn't make me any promises," Collins said. "They just told me to come in here and learn the dime position for now. That's about it. Learn dime and safety. I said, 'Alright, cool.'"

Collins has been working on the scout team and studying Wink Martindale's defense. He must earn his way on to the active roster.

"Joining the defense, getting involved with the guys, getting the opportunities to go showcase my skills," he said. "I've been enjoying it."

He has lined up at both inside linebacker and safety.

"Basically, the dime position is the defensive back position, so I would put it in that category," he said. "So, it is like a linebacker, but it is a DB position. When you play, you can also play a linebacker. I can play both, so that's what they're going out. That's what they're leading me to."

Saquon Barkley is the only current Giants player who was on the active roster when Collins last wore blue in 2018. He is also friends with Sterling Shepard, who is on injured reserve.

"It's a young team," Collins said. "The younger the team, the younger you feel. The older the team, the older you feel. As a vet in this situation, then I have to treat it more as a 'I can have fun with these guys' kind of situation."

Collins' tenure with the Giants from 2015-18 was marked by high achievement. The 33rd overall pick in 2015, he was a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and a three-time Pro Bowler. Collins was a three-time NFC Defensive Player of the Week and the Player of the Month in November 2016. He led the Giants in tackles in each of his first three seasons and was a team captain in 2018.

Collins often spoke of his love for football and how he hoped to have a long career with the Giants. But he signed with Washington as a free agent in 2019, beginning a largely unfulfilling three seasons with the team now called the Commanders.

Now, he's returned to the Giants hoping to get a gameday uniform.

"It's always humbling," he said. "I'm always going to be humble about every opportunity that I get. You know me. If I touch the field, it's a different aspect. I can make plays. I can be a playmaker. I can be a game-changer just given that opportunity. But at the end of the day, regardless about me talking about being on the field, if experience-wise, I can help these guys figure something out, see something differently, see what they should be reacting to, what keys they should be looking at, that experience is big knowledge for me and a big tip for me to help them. It's the overall game for the team, so that's the biggest thing."

Because he's confident he can be an asset and because he enjoys nothing more than playing football, Collins' smile remains.

"I always have that love for the game," he said. "This is my heart. This is my heart regardless of the situation.

"Nothing has changed, no. If I could play 15 years and I'm allowed to play 15 years in this game or even more, I love it. And they got a guy playing 17 years. the tight end from Green Bay (Mercedes Lewis). Man, if I get that chance to be able to do that and have the opportunity to do that, hell yeah. Just to be around these young guys keeps me young no matter what, it's football. It's a child's game. So, why not?"

*The Giants today announced that five players are out of Sunday's game against the Ravens: wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and defensive backs Cor'Dale Flott (calf), Tony Jefferson (foot) and Jason Pinnock (ankle).

Defensive end Azeez Ojulari (calf) is doubtful.

Three players are questionable: defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee), wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) and tight end Tanner Hudson (illness).

*The Giants will play their 100th regular-season home game in MetLife Stadium when they host the Ravens Sunday. They've also played two games as visitors vs. the Jets and one postseason game against Atlanta in 2011.

In the 13 seasons they've played in MetLife, the Giants are 46-53 as the home team, 1-1 as visitors and 1-0 in the playoffs. They are 2-1 this season and 14-10 in October, their only winning month in MetLife.

*Baltimore leads the regular-season series, 4-2, and defeated the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

The teams have met just once in MetLife – six years ago to the day on Sunday. On Oct. 16, 2016, Eli Manning threw a 66-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham, Jr. with 1:24 remaining to give the Giants a 27-23 victory. The Giants last faced the Ravens on Dec. 27, 2020, when Baltimore jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead and maintained its advantage throughout a 27-13 victory in M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens rushed for 249 yards, including 80 by quarterback Lamar Jackson.

*Daniel Jones and the Giants last week defeated the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, the NFL Most Valuable Player in 2020 and 2021. Jackson was the league's 2019 MVP. Jones can be the first quarterback to beat the last two MVP quarterbacks in back-to-back games since Minnesota's Sam Bradford beat Rodgers and Cam Newton in Weeks 2-3 in 2016.

*When they host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the Giants will celebrate Latino Heritage Month in partnership with Ford and supported by Dunkin' and PNC Private Bank. Fans will be welcomed with several plaza festivities, including sampling of Latin cuisine, live DJ, Latin style dance exhibition, Super Bowl trophy on display (weather permitting), and more. The festivities will be hosted by HOT 97's Laura Stylez and will take place on the plaza between MetLife and Verizon gates.

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